The Septic Inspector believes that the first line of defense for septic system owners is knowledge.
We provide a lot of educational materials, tips and other preventative maintenance information to our customers to help them keep their septic systems healthy, effective and efficient. In our experience, the more our residential and commercial customers know about how their septic systems work, the less problems they will have in the future.
When you combine knowledge with The Septic Inspector’s Maintenance Prevention Program, you create a day-to-day environment that will help you to properly support and maintain your septic system. The tips below can help to extend the life of your septic system and save you thousands of dollars in repairs or replacement costs in the future.
Keep the following items out of your septic system to prevent problems:
- paper towels
- kitty litter
- cooking oils or grease
- disposable diapers
- feminine hygiene products
- any/all latex products
- hazardous chemicals, pesticides and latex-based paints
- water purification back flush
It is important to note, however, that each system is unique. Check with your septic system installer or manufacturer for a complete list of items that should not make their way into your system for maximum efficiency.
One of the biggest problems for septic systems is the garbage disposal. Homeowners that have a septic system should avoid using their garbage disposal to prevent the introduction of unwanted solids into the system. Even if your system is designed to accommodate a garbage disposal, it is important to use it moderately. Composting is an alternate solution for homeowners that have a large volume of vegetable waste.
Another mistake that many septic system owners make is to put too much water into the system. The decomposition process can become strained if there is too much excess water in the system, resulting in a variety of problems. Ideally, septic owners should only be using a maximum of 50 gallons of water per day, per person. The following averages for common household activities can help you keep track:
- Dishwasher Cycle – 7 gallons
- Washing Machine – 40 gallons per load (less with front-loader machines)
- Toilet – 2 gallons per flush, 1.6 gallons for newer standard toilets
- Shower – 2.5 gallons per minute (a 10 minute shower = 25 gallons)
It can be difficult to stay on top of usage, particularly for large families, but laying down some basic guidelines can help everyone to work together. New environmentally-friendly appliances, toilets and shower heads can help reduce usage without a lot of extra effort. A water meter can be helpful for households that feed off of a well. The government website energystar.gov also has a lot of helpful ideas and tips for reducing water usage.
Remember: a septic system is installed based upon the number of people that are anticipated to be using it. If your base number increases, you might need to upgrade to a larger system.
DO NOT use harsh chemical drain openers if you experience a clogged drain. Septic system owners should use an alternative solution: a 1:1:1 ratio of salt, baking soda and vinegar. Follow this solution with boiling water or use a drain snake to clear out the clogs. The chemicals that are used in today’s store-bought drain cleaners can cause serious problems within your septic system.
Other chemicals can be damaging to your system as well. Instead of harsh cleansers, choose mild or natural cleaning supplies for your kitchen and bathrooms. Look for supplies that are “septic-safe” or that are marketed as being bio-degradable. These products will be approved for use in septic systems.
Antibacterial soaps and bleach can actually inhibit the enzymatic action that is required for the bacterial breakdown of solids within your septic tank. Add a laundry filter to your washing machine and use natural cleaning supplies whenever possible. If you have a water softener installed in your home, make sure that the salt recharge solution is redirected out of the septic tank.
The solids should be pumped out of your septic tank on a regular basis. However, it is important that you don’t do this too frequently. The average single-family three bedroom home requires pumping every 2-5 years depending on use. The Septic Inspector can help you determine whether your system is due for pumping and our Preventative Maintenance Program can help you stay on top of how things are functioning. Your state government can also give you a set of guidelines.
Additional maintenance may be required if you have things that add excess stress or water to your system. For example, a hot tub or jacuzzi tub can potentially endanger the longevity of your system if it is not properly supervised, cared for and maintained. Before you add anything new to your household that adds stress or water to your system, contact The Septic Inspector to ask questions or get a professional consultation.
Septic System Dos & Don’ts
THINGS YOU SHOULD DO
- DO call The Septic Inspector for a Voluntary Assessment of your septic system.
- DO conserve water whenever possible as a means of reducing the volume of wastewater that will need to be treated and disposed.
- DO make repairs to any faucets or toilets that are leaking.
- DO make sure that you are only discharging biodegradable wastes into your system.
- DO restrict or avoid use of your garbage disposal.
- DO take the time to ensure that any down spouts or other surface water is diverted away from your drainfield.
- DO keep the cover to your septic tank accessible by installing covers and risers for easier inspections and pumping.
- DO get your septic tank pumped regularly and have it checked for any cracks or leaks.
- DO have an effluent filter installed to prevent debris from entering your drainfield.
- DO add a laundry filter to your washing machine.
- DO put kitchen trash into a compost or throw it into the garbage – not down your drains.
- CLICK HERE for more information about The Septic Inspector’s Preventative Maintenance Contract that can help you prevent problems before they even occur!
THINGS YOU SHOULD NOT DO
- DON’T flush products such as tampons, sanitary napkins, condoms, disposable diapers or wipes into your system.
- DON’T empty oils or other types of kitchen grease down your drain.
- DON’T dump any items that can disrupt the treatment process or contaminate groundwater, such as: paints, oils, thinners, pesticides, poisons or disinfectants.
- DON’T build anything over your drainfield or dig in it for any reason.
- DON’T plant any landscaping over your drainfield – except grass.
- DON’T drive a vehicle over your drainfield or compact the soil in ANY way.
- DON’T run purification back flush into the septic tank.
- CLICK HERE for more educational information from the septic system experts, that will help you keep your septic system running effectively and efficiently.
- Why you should have risers installed on your system
- Tips for Proper Septic System Usage
- Information about your Septic System Pump Chamber
- Septic System Maintenance Basics
- Septic System Dos and Don’ts
- Septic System Guidelines
- Washing Machine Lint White Paper
- Septic System Pump Chambers
- What is High-Strength Waste Water?
- Nitrogen & Phosphorus in Wastewater
- Septic Additives and Treatments
- Septic System Ventilation and Odor Control
- What to Expect during the Testing and Engineering of a New Septic System
- Water Softeners and Your Septic Systems
- Septic System Installation
- How a Septic System Works
- When Your Septic System Fails
- When A Septic System Fails in Maine or New Hampshire